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Can You Use Dryer Sheets for Baby Clothes?

You don’t need dryer sheets for baby clothes. Many babies experience common skin conditions such as eczema. Fragrance and chemical residue from large brand dryer sheets may further irritate sensitive skin. Some common dryer sheet chemicals are also associated with asthma. Try wool dryer balls instead, which separate clothes and create airflow. If you’re set on dryer sheets for baby clothes, choose brands using safer ingredients. Keep reading for more about the best dryer sheets for baby clothes, and some alternatives.

Dryer Sheets for Baby Clothes: What You Need to Know

Before I met him, my husband was a dryer sheet enthusiast. Growing up in the dry climate of Alberta, Canada, he was used to using dryer sheets to cut static electricity from clothes straight from the dryer. Admittedly, he also loved the smell of newly laundered clothes, back in the good old days when he knew not of phthalates and VOCs.

On the other hand, I’ve long been a minimalist with this sort of thing. Believe it or not, I’d never even used dryer sheets before meeting him. Throughout our marriage, we’ve gone back and forth on the issue, sometimes adding a dryer sheet to our laundry, and sometimes not.

When we moved from North America to Prague and then Budapest, the issue solved itself: we no longer had a dryer, and therefore no longer needed dryer sheets.

However, when COVID struck, we moved home. We wanted to be closer to family and take advantage of our public health coverage in Canada. Back in Canada, we once again have a dryer.

And it got me wondering about dryer sheets.

I’ve done a ton of research lately about cleaning products and the chemicals they’re often full of. And while I’ve had a lot of success finding baby safe stain remover, baby safe dish soap and natural dishwasher detergent, experimenting with homemade laundry detergent, and using fragrance free cleaning products, I was skeptical about dryer sheets.

Dryer sheets are a type of fabric softener, and the Environmental Working Group generally recommends you avoid fabric softener because some common ingredients are associated with asthma.

But is it possible to find dryer sheets that are safe for baby clothes? Turns out, the answer is yes. Sort of.

What Type of Dryer Sheets Can You Use for Baby Clothes?

While it’s possible to find safer dryer sheets, there aren’t a lot of options if you want to stick with the safest ingredients and find something that’s truly baby safe.

So what are your options?

The Safest Options

ATTITUDE Static Eliminator Cloths & Softener

A pair of reusable static-eliminating cloths made from 99% polyester and 1% nylon, with no other ingredients to worry about. Each package contains 2 cloths, which are used together and reusable for up to 300 loads. May be most effective when used in combo with wool dryer balls, although we use them on their own.

These cloths work to reduce static in the dryer. While they’re far from perfect, they do work pretty well when used as directed. And because they don’t contain embedded chemicals, there’s nothing to leave residue on your little one’s clothes.

Past customers have had about 50/50 success with these, so you may have to experiment a bit. We use these with great success, but we live in a pretty humid climate in the PNW. If we lived somewhere dryer, it might be a different story.

Some past reviewers have said they use these cloths in combo with wool dryer balls. We haven’t felt the need, but it may be worth experimenting.

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The Attitude Static Eliminator Cloths we use. You pop both of them in the dryer at the same time, and they last up to 300 loads.

Babyganics Laundry Wool Dryer Balls

These dryer balls lift and separate your clothes in the dryer, allowing more efficient drying as the balls create airflow between the fabric. Expect reduced dry times up to 25%, and enjoy softer clothes without the chemicals.

These natural wool dryer balls will last you up to 1000 loads, and provide a natural, chemical-free alternative to dryer sheets when washing baby clothes. They’re fragrance free and don’t have any additives, meaning there’s no chance of any chemicals rubbing off on your baby’s clothes during the laundry cycle.

Plus, they’ll save you a bit of time and are good for the environment, reducing dry time by up to 25%.

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Safer Dryer Sheet Options

But what if you’d really prefer to use actual dryer sheets for whatever reason?

Generally speaking, dryer sheets are worth avoiding, and we recommend you try out the options above as your first step (the Static Eliminator Cloths with or without the Wool Dryer Balls).

However, if you just can’t get rid of that dryer sheet itch, these brands are some of the safer options out there, as indicated by Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning.

Note, many of these still contain some questionable ingredients. They just contain fewer questionable ingredients than some of the large brand dryer sheets.

That said, don’t get fooled by marketing terms like “natural” and “plant-based.” While these dryer sheets are (in my opinion) better than the large brand competitors, they are far from perfect.

I think they’re suitable for occasional use, but I will stick to using the Static Eliminator Cloths for my laundry, and add the Wool Dryer Balls if needed. That said, I know every family is different, and you’ll need to make the best choice for your family.

Grab Green Wet Dryer Sheets

Environmentally friendlier than traditional dryer sheets, and fairly effective at removing static cling. These dryer sheets are made from safer ingredients that will leave no residue on clothes or inside of your dryer.

This product is free of phosphates, phthalates, dyes, toxins and animal by-products, making it safer for the environment and your family. It is also free of any scent or fragrance, so it is gentler on sensitive skin.

These dryer sheets are compostable and Rainforest Alliance Certified. As a bonus, each sheet can be used twice. One pack of 32 sheets will last through 64 loads of laundry. However, its effectiveness against static on the second load is slightly reduced.

They are manufactured in the US and are cruelty-free. They don’t get rid of static as well as some of the more common brands but they also don’t leave a detectable residue.

The Environmental Working Group gives these sheets a B grade (out of F, just like in school).

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Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day

These paper sheets leave clothes static-free and fluffy, and they come in a handful of garden-inspired scents.

None of Mrs. Meyer’s products are tested on animals, and they contain fewer harsh chemical ingredients than many other brands. This includes being free from parabens, phthalates and animal-derived ingredients.

If fragrances and scents don’t bother you or your family, these sheets do a pretty good job with static and come in five unique scents: basil, lavender, lemon verbena, geranium and honeysuckle.

The sheet itself is made of biodegradable paper and the scents are derived from essential oils.

Environmental Working Group gives these sheets a C.

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Seventh Generation Fabric Softener Sheets

An option for people who have sensitive skin, these softener sheets are free of irritating dyes and fragrances and have been tested by dermatologists.

Recently reformulated for better results against static cling, these sheets perform well and have fewer potentially harmful ingredients than many competitive brands. Additionally, they are hypoallergenic.

These sheets are never tested on animals and are packaged in 100% recycled packaging. Also available in scented.

EWG gives these dryer sheets a C grade.

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Honest Dryer Cloths

A USDA certified bio-based product, these dryer cloths help to reduce static cling with fewer potentially harmful chemicals.

Made from 97% plant-derived ingredients and free of fragrances and dyes, they are specially formulated to be non-irritating for people with sensitive skin.

Additionally, they are tested at third-party, independent laboratories and are Green America Certified for environmental safety.

They are free of parabens, phthalates, and phosphates. And each sheet is reusable, so you can get at least two loads out of one sheet.

EWG gives these dryer sheets a C grade.

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Final Thoughts on Choosing Dryer Sheets (or Not) for Baby Clothes

It’s worth reiterating that a truly non-toxic dryer sheet is a bit of a unicorn; in my opinion, it just doesn’t exist outside using Static Eliminator Cloths and Wool Dryer Balls.

That said, some brands have made a concerted effort to reduce the number of potentially harmful chemicals used in their products, especially when compared to some of the big brand dryer sheets.

If you’re trying to gradually reduce the chemicals in your household cleaning routine, check out the Grab Green Wet Dryer Sheets, Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day, Seventh Generation Fabric Softener Sheets, or Honest Dryer Cloths.

However, if you’re trying to really eliminate potentially harmful chemicals in your house, you probably want to skip the dryer sheets all together.

Do you know someone who’s trying to green their cleaning routine? Or a parent looking to reduct the harmful chemicals their baby or child is exposed to? If you found this article helpful, I hope you’ll share this post with them!

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